Content marketing requires a bit of a balance these days. On the one hand, we are all inundated with content, not all of it terribly useful, so we have to be sure what we publish is of the highest quality.
And the competitive landscape is beyond crowded, so the temptation to publish content on a wide range of topics should be resisted. It’s more productive to find a niche and own it.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stretch our content marketing muscles in other ways. Most importantly, we should be creating content that appeals to our target audience at all stages of their buying process. Here are some ideas for media and formats that will help keep prospects engaged from the “getting to know you” stage straight through client on boarding.
Content That Says, “Hello”
As someone begins to search for a solution to a problem their business is experiencing, their view is from the proverbial 30,000 feet. Details are less important than broad strokes and simple presentation of what is possible.
Content most appealing to buyers at this stage will include infographics, which tend to pack a lot of high-level data and information into a very digestible format; general overview articles, which can help orient a prospect who is still learning about her options, and explainer videos that are similar to infographics and overview articles in their broad view and quick consumption.
Each of these should hint at the additional information that’s worth exploring, the submerged part of the iceberg, and should include or be presented with calls to action that help drive the prospect toward the next stage of the buying process and the additional content you have ready for them.
Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You
As they move through their buying process, prospects will want to know more about you, but first they’ll want to know more about the solutions they are exploring. Case studies, case stories, and similar accounts of the experience others have had lead the way here.
Webinars that include similar content are also quite effective, particularly as prospects move further through the middle of the funnel. (There has to be some level of interest already in place for a prospect to commit 30, 60, or 90 minutes to a webinar, even if they will be multitasking.)
Video can be a great tool here, as well. Interviews with clients who were facing a similar issue to the prospect not only cover much of the same ground as more traditional case studies but also provide a window into what it is like to work with you.
The Background Check
As prospects move closer to a decision, they want the quantitative data that backs up the qualitative decision they’re leaning toward. The specifics of your solution need to lead the way here, whether that’s technical data or statistics about the overall effectiveness of the solution you’re offering versus other options available in the market.
Prospects here are willing to invest more time — in fact, most will want to before they’re comfortable committing budget and time to a solution — so this is an exception to the rule that nobody reads online, they only skim.
That’s not to say that content here should take the form of dry analysis broken up only with charts and graphs. Layout and presentation still matter, and media like video can still be incredibly effective. Just be sure to offer the accompanying data — like those charts and graphs — in a more easily sharable format since this is the stage where your buyers may be presenting their recommendation to a broader team more interested in quick hits than a deep dive.
Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach that will satisfy every prospect in your funnel, so metrics and analytics should be in place to measure content consumption and timelines. Be sure you’re also reviewing content consumption to see if you have any weak spots in your funnel. Shore up any areas where content seems not to be holding your audience’s attention.